|Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York|
Daily Press Briefing by the Offices of the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
and the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President
The following is a near-verbatim transcript of today’s noon briefing by Martin Nesirky, Spokesperson for the Secretary-General, and Jean Victor Nkolo, Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly.
Briefing by the Spokesperson for the Secretary-General
Good afternoon, everybody, and welcome to the briefing.
**Secretary-General in Colombia
The Secretary-General is on his way to Colombia, where he will witness the signing into law of the Victims’ Rights and Land Restitution Bill. He will say that the law takes Colombia closer to realizing the rights of victims. And he will also urge Colombia to send a powerful message that under no circumstances will human rights violations be tolerated. And the Secretary-General will also meet with Maria Emma Mejia, Secretary-General of the Union of South American Nations (UNASUR).
In a statement we issued yesterday evening, the Secretary-General welcomed the “Kampala Accord” signed earlier that day concerning Somalia, which will enable the Transitional Federal Institutions to work constructively in the interest of the Somali people.
The Secretary-General urges the Somali parties to swiftly implement the Accord. He also calls on the Somali parties to act resolutely to complete the outstanding transitional tasks, including the promotion of national reconciliation, constitution-making and the associated public consultation, and rebuilding the security sector. The full statement is available online.
** C ôte d’Ivoire
The report of the Commission of Inquiry into the allegations of serious abuses and violations of human rights committed in Côte d'Ivoire following last year’s presidential elections has submitted its report to the President of the Human Rights Council.
As you know, the Commission was in Côte d’Ivoire from 4 to 28 May. It went not only to Abidjan, but also to the west, north and south of the country, including to Duékoué, Guiglo and Korogho. The Commission also travelled to Liberia.
In its report, the Commission concludes that several serious violations of human rights and international humanitarian law were committed during the period examined. These violations, it adds, were committed by both the Forces de défense et de sécurité and by the Forces républicaines de Côte d’Ivoire during their counter-offensive.
The report makes a number of recommendations — including asking the Government to make sure that the perpetrators of these violations are brought to justice. It also suggests establishing an independent mechanism concerning human rights in Côte d’Ivoire.
The report is available online. And the Human Rights Council will consider the report next Wednesday, and the Commission will hold a press conference in Geneva that same day.
The Secretary-General has appointed Arnauld Antoine Akodjènou of Benin as his Deputy Special Representative in Côte d’Ivoire. Mr. Akodjènou will replace Abou Moussa of Chad. Mr. Akodjènou is currently serving as Inspector General of the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees. And we have more information on that appointment in my office.
The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) reports that heavy fighting by Sudan Armed Forces and elements of southern Sudan’s People Liberation Army continued in several parts of South Kordofan State. Some fighting has included aerial bombardments.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says that since fighting began on 6 June, an estimated 30,000-40,000 people have fled Kadugli, though exact numbers cannot be verified.
In Kadugli, the South Kordofan state capital, fighting subsided yesterday, with only sporadic gunfire reported. The Sudan Armed Forces have declared that they are in control in the city. There are armed checkpoints on main roads inside and around the city. Looting of property has reportedly continued, including of United Nations agencies and non-governmental organizations’ offices.
The Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs says it is estimated that two thirds of the Kadugli population has fled. Surrounding towns and villages are reportedly deserted. The number of displaced people along the main road between the UN Mission compound and the airport is put at between 6,000 and 10,000 people.
**Economic and Social Council — South Sudan
The Economic and Social Council and the Peacebuilding Commission will convene an event on “Promoting durable peace and sustainable development in Sudan and South Sudan” on Monday, 13 June, from 3 until 6 p.m., here in New York.
The event will focus on the development and state-building needs in South Sudan, and the importance of strengthening bilateral and regional cooperation. The emergence of two States in a highly volatile region marred by security and political challenges calls for early mobilization of the international community and the United Nations system in providing adequate support for South Sudan and post-Comprehensive Peace Agreement Sudan. Riek Machar, the Vice-President of Southern Sudan, will participate in this meeting.
**Human Rights Council
The Human Rights Council today held its annual full-day discussion on women’s human rights, with a panel discussion focusing on good practices and remaining gaps in the prevention of violence against women.
Michelle Bachelet, the Executive Director of UN Women, was one of the panellists. And she told the Human rights Council that violence against women was not inevitable; it could be prevented and avoided with the right combination of tools and policies.
The Secretary-General’s Special Representative on Sexual Violence in Armed Conflict, Margot Wallström, also addressed the Human Rights Council on her concern about the use of rape as a weapon of war, including in conflicts taking place right now.
The Security Council this morning extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts dealing with non-proliferation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea by a year, until 12 June next year.
Yesterday, the Council had extended the mandate of the Panel of Experts dealing with non-proliferation in Iran, also by a year, until 9 June 2012.
The Office of the High Commissioner for Human Rights says that, one year after the outbreak of inter-ethnic violence in Kyrgyzstan, there continue to be problems with the administration of justice, particularly in the south.
Trials monitored by the High Commissioner’s Office in Kyrgyzstan — from city courts to the Supreme Court — continue to create concern about due process, the independence of the judiciary, and security for defendants, their lawyers and court officials.
Meanwhile, the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) said that tens of thousands of people are still displaced in southern Kyrgyzstan a year after the clashes. About 60,000 people are still scattered across Kyrgyzstan and abroad today. And some said that their houses had been damaged, while others cited security concerns, or a lack of living space and jobs. And there’s more information on that available in Geneva’s briefing notes today.
Today at 12:30 p.m., following this briefing, there will be a press conference organized by the Department of Public Information, and that is to introduce the student leaders of the 2011 Global Model UN Conference, which will be taking place in Incheon, in the Republic of Korea, from 10 to 14 August.
And on Monday there will be a press conference here at 3 p.m., and that is to launch a new World Bank publication entitled Connecting Landlocked Developing Countries to Markets.
And when I’ve finished the briefing you, Jean Victor Nkolo, the Spokesperson for the President of the General Assembly, will take over, and he will have with him Paul De Lay, who is the Deputy Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS, otherwise know as UNAIDS.
So I can see that Jean Victor and Mr. De Lay are already here. So I am happy to take a few questions before handing over to them. Please, questions? Yes, Matthew?
**Questions and Answers
Question: Sure. I wanted to know, there is a report that in Darfur the Government killed 16 members of the Zaghawa tribe, returned three of them to Shangil Tobaya; it’s pretty well documented, this African Centre for Justice and Peace Studies has the names of all 16 victims. I wonder, one, if UNAMID [African Union-United Nations Hybrid Operation in Darfur] is aware of it, and two, if so, one way or another why, what’s UNAMID’s reaction to this? It’s 10 days ago that it happened.
Spokesperson: Let me check. We will ask UNAMID whether they have anything on that.
Question: And I want to ask you about this incident in the airport in Haiti that took place, in which MINUSTAH [United Nations Stabilization Mission in Haiti] is reported to have stopped Haitian customs officials from inspecting baggage and having fired shots in the air. One, did it happen? And two, what is the protocol for people, even if they are affiliated with MINUSTAH, bringing items in? Is it all tax free? Does Haiti have any right to check these bags?
Spokesperson: Well, there was some kind of incident. I don’t know the full details at this point. I do know that the Mission is investigating, as it would do in any such case. And when we have a few more details, then I would let you know, but that’s what I have at the moment. Other questions, please? It’s you again. [laughter] James, I am blinded by the spotlight here, right above you.
Question: It’s a boring question, anyway, but it’s just…
Spokesperson: No, no, not at all.
Question: …the SG’s reports on Somalia piracy — over the next couple of days, I think it was listed for; do you know when we get it?
Spokesperson: No, I don’t. I have been asked by others and we have inquired. I don’t have an answer on that. But I have registered the considerable interest in this, understandably. Yeah, sorry, James. Please, yes?
Question: Okay, fast and furious. Two more, very… One, the Kuwait News Service has reported that the Secretary-General has been trying to reach Bashar al-Assad, but is unable to… has put in calls and is told that he is otherwise occupied, quoting UN sources for that story. Is that the case? Can the Secretary-General not reach Mr. Assad?
Spokesperson: Yes, it is the case.
Question: Okay. For how long has he been trying?
Spokesperson: This week.
Question: Okay. And the other one I wanted to ask, there is this letter from a number of New York City or New York area Congress people, again about this case, the matter of the de-unionization of these broadcast engineer jobs. Now —and there was a letter from AFL-CIO that’s several months old now — there was a 24 May letter by Congresspersons [Carolyn] Maloney, [Gary] Ackerman and a slew of others, including Anthony Weiner. But I wonder… to the Secretary-General, stating that this is an anti-union move and asking him to reconsider. And I wonder, has the letter been received and what’s the response, including to the AFL-CIO letter some months ago?
Spokesperson: I’ll check on whether this latest missive has been received or not. I think Ms. [Angela] Kane from the Department of Management, the Under-Secretary-General for Management, spoke at some length on this topic when she briefed you, and I don’t really have anything to add. Should there be anything further as a result of the letter — the earlier one or this latest letter — then I will let you know. Okay, yes, please?
Question: Martin, does the SG have any comment on the declaration being adopted later today on HIV/AIDS? I haven’t heard a statement from you on that.
Spokesperson: Not at this point, but I am sure that once the Secretary-General has landed in Colombia, he will have something very positive to say about it. And I am sure that we will hear more about this in a second, when Jean Victor and Mr. De Lay take over. I mean, obviously this has been an extremely important week. And as you know, at the beginning of the week — the beginning of this high-level session — the Secretary-General made an extremely important, I would say, landmark speech on this topic. And the fact that so many Heads of State and Heads of Government and other ministers have been in town, and along with representatives from civil society and from the, for example, from the scientific community, this is testament to the continued strong commitment of the United Nations, and the international community as a whole, to work extremely hard to build on the progress that has been made and to help to alleviate the suffering of people in many parts of the world. Yes, Masood, yes?
Question: On this reported decision by NATO directly targeting Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi, is it now seen by, the Secretary-General sees it as a mandate given in resolution 1973 (2011)?
Spokesperson: The Security Council resolution is very clear about what is to be done, and that is that this is for protecting civilians. I am not the spokesperson for NATO. Okay, any other questions? Yes, Iftikhar?
Question: I was asking you a question about interpretation of 1973…
Spokesperson: Well, first of all, I am not necessarily sure I accept the premise of your question in the first place. And secondly, the Security Council resolution is extremely explicit in its terms, and that is that this is for the protection of civilians. Yes, Iftikhar?
Question: Martin, does the UN have any word on the death of M.F. Husain, the great Indian artist who was known as the Picasso of India, and was forced by the Indians and was living in… forced out of India and was living in exile in London?
Spokesperson: Well, this is obviously a sad moment for the world of culture. I would defer to my colleagues in UNESCO [United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization], who may have something a little more to say on that topic. Okay. Alright, I am going to hand over to you. Please. And I wish you all a good weekend, thank you.
Briefing by the Spokesperson for the General Assembly President
Bon après-midi, good afternoon.
This indeed has been a very busy week, and a very important one. And before I hand over the floor to Paul De Lay, the Deputy Executive Director of the Joint United Nations Programme on HIV/AIDS (UNAIDS), I’d like to provide one or two clarifications.
**General Assembly President’s Election
I have been asked over the past few days if a date has been set for the election of the President of the sixty-sixth session of the General Assembly. Indeed, this date is 22 June. So that’s 22 June.
**General Assembly Appointment of Secretary-General
I have also been asked about the date regarding the appointment of the Secretary-General at the General Assembly. We have no date yet because this will still have to go first through the Security Council. So a date has not been set, but this should happen in the near future.
**General Assembly President’s Meetings
You also have on our websites all the readouts of the meetings that the PGA has been having over the past week. Not only meetings that he holds regularly, such as meeting with the Presidents of the principal organs of the United Nations — he met yesterday, for instance, with the Ambassador of Gabon in his capacity as President of the Security Council for the month of June — but also meetings that the President had on the fringes, on the margins of the High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS.
Yesterday also he met the Prime Minister of Mozambique as well as the Japanese State Secretary for Foreign Affairs. The day before, he met with the Prime Minister of Grenada. He also met the President of Gabon, the President of Mali as well as the Vice-President of Southern Sudan, Riek Machar.
On 7 June, on the eve of the High-Level Meeting, the President had met with Goodluck Ebele Jonathan, the President of Nigeria. On the same day, he met with the French Minister for Foreign Affairs, Alain Juppé, as well as Ruslan Kazakbayev, the Foreign Minister of Kyrgyzstan.
I can take a question or two because we have to leave the floor to Mr. De Lay. If there is no further question… Do you? Yes?
**Questions and Answers
Question: The General Assembly President; there is only one candidate, it’s the Qatari candidate. Is there going to be a vote or is it going to be by acclamation?
Spokesperson: My understanding is that this is based on candidates presented by regional groups. And the candidate for the group for whom the turn is now to be elected is Asia, and that candidate is Ambassador Nassir [Abdulaziz Al-Nasser] of Qatar. So you will have to wait for 22 June to see how the proceedings go at the General Assembly.
Question: Do you know the actual date that he will change over from President Deiss to the next President?
Spokesperson: Well the mandate of President Deiss goes up to, I think, 12 or 13 September this year. Yes, Matthew?
Question: Sure. I mean, at the Security Council, they told us that the scheduled date for the Secretary-General is the 21st, and I just wonder if you can confirm — I understand you can’t prejudge what will happen in the Security Council on the 16th — but in this meeting between President Deiss and the President of the Council, was the 21st tentatively set as the date that would be used if the Council were to approve Mr. Ban? And also, will the Secretary-General speak to that meeting, whichever date it is?
Spokesperson: Well, on whether the President, or whether the Secretary-General is going to speak, you will have to ask Martin [Nesirky]. On the date, what they have told you, I have no reason to comment one way or another. But what I can say is that the procedure is very clear. It has to be a recommendation coming from the Security Council. This still, I understand, has to take place. And whatever was discussed in the meeting you quote was not part of the readout that we distributed after that meeting. But I will go back and check to find out if a date can now be ascertained and confirmed.
Thank you very much, I think we now have to leave the floor to Mr. De Lay on this very important High-Level Meeting on HIV/AIDS. Mr. De Lay, good afternoon to you.
[Press Conference by Mr. De Lay is issued separately.]
* *** *For information media • not an official record